A bumper year of rock, metal, blues and country continues at pace despite COVID-19’s best efforts to blunt the music we love.

As 2020 reaches the halfway stage we count down the best albums of the year so far.

We featured 20-10 yesterday. Now for the Top 10 – including the Rushonrock Record Of The Year…so far!

10. House Of Lords – New World New Eyes (Frontiers)

Melodic rock doesn’t come much better than this. House Of Lords built on their hair metal legacy with a throwback classic perfectly showcasing frontman James Christian’s unique vocal talent.

No dial is left unturned in the search for the perfect production and New World New Eyes is cleaner than a fresh batch of PPE.

The Bad English-vibe of Chemical Rush perfectly captures the mood of a magnificent record but One More is one of the best House Of Lords songs of any era. End of. SR

Read the full review.

9. Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn (Candlelight)

Long-established as one of the finest black metal acts in the UK, Winterfylleth had nothing to prove by the time album number seven came along.

But they unleashed the finest record of their career anyway. 

The quintet’s passionate dedication to honing their songcraft and musicianship – and their mastery of sweeping, black metal dynamics – rang loud and clear from A Hostile Fate and Absolved In Fire, songs which broke like raging storms across Albion’s ancient, rocky fells. 

Spellbinding. RH

8. Testament – Titans of Creation (Nuclear Blast)

Pulling no punches, Testament have delivered the thrash record of 2020.

There’s no over indulgence to be found here, no filler, just sheer brutality and riffs that rip.

Night Of The Witch, WWIII, Children Of The Next Level, Code of Hammurabi – hell, nigh on everything from start to finish on this record demonstrates blistering musicianship and power.

Since 2008 the Bay Area legends have been on the up and up, but right now? They are the Titans. JB

Check out the full review.

7. Bury Tomorrow – Cannibal (SonyCMGUK)

Trying to come up with new ways to say Bury Tomorrow have hit new heights is becoming increasingly difficult.

But with each passing gig or song or album the metalcore titans seem to get better.

Cannibal is heavy, melodic, poignant, sad and rowdy as Dani Winter-Bates leads his boys with impeccable style.

Bury Tomorrow are simply the best in the business. Get the album now. Russ H

6. Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin kynsi (Nuclear Blast)

Imagine if 70s Hawkwind, having daubed themselves in liquid LSD, had plunged through a temporal rift into black metal’s birthing pool.

Or if Ozric Tentacles and Can collided with Darkthrone in some planet slaying cosmic event. You wouldn’t even be close to what Oranssi Pazuzu have spawned in Mestarin kynsi.

Embracing electronica more whole heartedly than in past efforts, the psychedelic Finns surpassed themselves with their sixth album – and opened up a new world of possibilities for extreme music. RH

5. Lucinda Williams – Good Souls Better Angels (Highway/Thirty Tigers) 

A critics’ pick across the board in 2020 and no wonder. Williams drew on a life well lived to pull together a spectacular commentary on a world in flux.

Raw country, classic Americana and dirty blues all make their presence felt on an album that asks as many questions as it answers.

There’s no holding back and no backing down as one of the most compelling voices of the 21st century bolsters an impressively authentic canon. SR

Read the full review.

4. Haggard Cat – Common Sense Holiday (Earache Records) 

Two men who once bricked themselves into a tiny room for a music video, Haggard Cat sound as rowdy as they…sound.

Common Sense Holiday is a great listen from cover to cover. It’s a bit of a cliché to say two-piece bands make an oversize amount of noise, but it’s a cliché for a reason and Haggard Cat definitely turn it on.

Equal parts raw, DIY spirit and production values, Haggard Cat feel like they could have come off the same production line as DZ Deathrays, Black Peaks and the ghost of Jack White. Russ H

3. Paradise Lost – Obsidian (Nuclear Blast)

Paradise Lost thrilled fans with 2017’s back to the roots, death doom masterstroke Medusa.

But they sent them into ecstasy with Obsidian, an enthralling album bathed in the darkness of Icon, Draconian Times and One Second, and an opus which proved that Yorkshire’s finest are virtually peerless when on top form.

From the seductive Goth rock of Ghosts, to the titanic choruses of Forsaken and the menacing crawl of Ravenghast, Obsidian flowed with Paradise Lost’s lifeblood…and was the sound of a band crackling with creative energy.  RH

Check out the full review.

2. Buffalo Summer – Desolation Blue (Silver Lining Music)

Swansea’s finest doubled down on blues-fuelled classic rock to deliver one of the most soulful albums of the year so far.

Frontman Andrew Hunt has never sounded better: If Walls Could Speak was just one example of the vocalist’s power and control combining to create something very special.

Jonny Williams’ Kossof-esque cool shone through on the outstanding Dark Valentine but the highlights came thick and fast from a band that knows no bounds. A Summer sizzler. SR

Read the full review.

1. Kvelertak – Splid (Rise Records)

New singer, new record label, new heights. And the best album we’ve heard so far in 2020!

After the relative disappointment of Nattesferd, who could have predicted Kvelertak would return with an album that would usurp the mighty Meir?

Ivar Nikolaisen has managed to bring stability to the ranks whilst simultaneously unleashing a cataclysmic freneticism that steamrollers across all musical boundaries as only the ‘Tak can. JB

Here’s the full review.

Contributors: John Burrows, Richard Holmes, Russell Hughes, Simon Rushworth.